Research Grant Recipients

The Melanoma Research Foundation is proud to present a number of Research Grant Awards. Junior Investigator (Career Development) Awards are up to $50,000 per year for two years. Starting in 2006 the MRF also began awarding Senior (Established) Investigator Awards. Senior Investigator Grant Awards are up to $100,000 per year for two years. In 2011, the MRF began awarding one-year Medical Student Research Grant of up to $3,000. In 2014, the MRF began awarding Team Awards. Team Awards are two-year awards of up to $500,000 to teams of scientists addressing an identified unmet clinical need in melanoma research. 

2014

Team Awards

Identifying rational therapeutic approaches to 'wild type' melanoma

Principal Investigator: Michael Davies - University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Improving diagnostic precision of melanoma using genetic information

Principal Investigator: Julide Celebi - Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Monitoring response to therapy with blood BRAF levels

Principal Investigator: Ryan Sullivan - Massachusetts General Hospital
Note: MRFBC Funded

Established Investigator Award

A novel Stat3 targeted acral melanoma therapy via induction of senescence

Principal Investigator: Rutao Cui - Trustees of Boston University, BU Medical Campus

Fast cycling Gaq Ga11

Principal Investigator: John Sondek - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Note: CURE OM funded award

Targeting PSGL-1 as a novel immunotherapeutic approach to treat melanoma

Principal Investigator: Linda Bradley - Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Career Development Award

Comprehensive genomic characterization of mucosal melanoma

Principal Investigator: Iwei Yeh - The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco
Note: Focus on Mucosal Melanoma

Epigenomic and microRNAomic mechanisms of UV-induced melanomagenesis

Principal Investigator: Raza Zaidi - Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education

Targeting SOX10 as a therapeutic strategy in BRAF wild-type melanoma

Principal Investigator: Cory Johannessen - Broad Institute, Inc.

The role of epigenomic alterations in melanoma formation and metastasis

Principal Investigator: Brian Capell - University of Pennsylvania

Medical Student Award

Age and sex differences in localized cutaneous melanoma survival and progression: A Mayo Clinic Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study on Melanoma

Principal Investigator: Jeannette Olazagasti Lourido - The Mayo Clinic

Genetic characterization of congenital melanocytic nevi and malignant melanoma

Principal Investigator: Erik Geiger - Yale University School of Medicine

Methylated DNA shed in serum from metastatic melanoma as a biomarker following surgery

Principal Investigator: Nathaniel Slater - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Non-viral engineering of T cells with enhanced tumorcidal potential activity for melanoma immunotargeting

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Jonas - Thomas Jefferson University

Pilot trial to evaluate the effect of vitamin D on melanocyte biomarkers

Principal Investigator: Eric Anderson - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The role of BAP1 mutations in establishing a pro-metastatic immune microenvironment in uveal melanoma

Principal Investigator: Matthew Field - University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

2013

Established Investigator Award

Elucidating the role of BMI1 in metastatic melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jacqueline Lees - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MYC as an invisible driver in metastatic uveal melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. William Tansey - Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Note: CURE OM funded

Modulating immunosuppressive signals in cancer cells using FDA-approved compounds

Principal Investigator: Dr. Eduardo Davila - University of Maryland, Baltimore

Understanding and targeting ER stress pathways in melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ze'ev Ronai - Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Career Development Award

An integrative genomics approach to identify metabolic drivers of melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Narendra Wajapeyee

Monitoring melanoma targeted therapy using microfluidic CTC-Chip

Principal Investigator: Dr. Xi Luo - Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cancer

Overcoming resistance to MEK inhibition in advanced uveal melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard Carvajal - Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Note: CURE OM funded

Role of HDAC6 in the modulation of immune-related pathways in melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alejandro Villagra - H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

TIGIT-mediated regulation of immune syppression in melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ana Anderson - Brigham and Women's Hospital
Note: Career Development Award

The BRAF-regulated IncRNA BANCR regulates melanoma cell migration

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ross Flockhart - Stanford University

The impact of BRAF oncogenic events on immune gene expression

Principal Investigator: Dr. Brian Pollack - Emory University

Medical Student Award

A potential role for Rec8 in genomic instability during melanomagenesis

Principal Investigator: Scott Lindsey - University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Antidepressants and melanoma: Is there a link?

Principal Investigator: Stephanie Douglas - Yale University School of Medicine

Defining the role of CD2 in disease progression and overall survival among patients with resectable primary melanoma

Principal Investigator: Sara Harcharik - Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Investigating a Role for the Oculocutaneous Albinism Type 2 (OCA2) Protein and p53 pathway in melanoma chemoresistance

Principal Investigator: Andrew Kim - NYU School of Medicine

Role of human antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin and mast cells in IL-9 mediated melanoma immunity

Principal Investigator: Keith Roby - University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

2012

Team Awards

Discovery & therapeutic targeting of a metastatic microRNA in melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Sohail Tavazoie - The Rockefeller University
Note: In memory of Kevin Brue and in honor of participants in the Miles for Melanoma program

Identification of predictive biomarkers in metastatic melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ryan Wilcox - The Regents of the University of Michigan
Note: In memory of Aaron Anchor and Edward A. Merullo

MT1-MMP as a target for treating melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Barbara Bedogni - Case Western Reserve University-School of Medicine
Note: In memory of Amanda Carter-Horn and in honor of Neil Gaines and the participants in the Mela-no-no and Central Ohio Pasta Dinner fundraisers

Mechanisms of VISTA-mediated immune suppression in cancer

Principal Investigator: Dr. Li Wang - Trustees of Dartmouth College
Note: In memory of Kent McCullough

Optimizing combined targeted and immune melanoma therapies

Principal Investigator: Dr. Marcus Bosenberg - Yale University
Note: In honor of participants in Wings of Hope, DC - 3 year award in conjunction with the Melanoma Research Alliance

Targeting TBK1 in mutant NRAS melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrew Aplin - Thomas Jefferson University
Note: In honor of participants in Wings of Hope, San Francisco

The role of cell polarity in metastatic melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric Witze - The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
Note: In memory of Terry Patters and Yvette M. Jarvis

Established Investigator Award

Dissecting therapeutic avenues in UM through genomic and functional studies

Principal Investigator: Dr. Levi Garraway - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Note: CURE OM funded

Interdiction of signaling by G-alpha-q to treat ocular melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. John Sondek - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Note: Established Investigator Award - CURE OM

Medical Student Award

Assessing TSPY as a marker for melanoma progression in men

Principal Investigator: Jillian W. Wong - University of Utah Medical School
Note: In memory of Robert Hansen and Brad Lanpher

Measurement of macrophage derived interferon gamma levels in melanoma patients post UV radiation exposure

Principal Investigator: Tatyana Petukhova - Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University
Note: Medical Student Award - In memory of George Wilkins

RTK coactiviation in BRAF inhibitor resistant melanomas

Principal Investigator: Elisha Garg - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Note: Medical Student Award - In honor of Dancers United Concert for a Cause

Soluble adenylyl cyclase regulates melanoma through autophagy

Principal Investigator: Adam J. Widman - Weill Cornell Medical College
Note: Medical Student Award - In memory of Thomas Gutheil

Treatment outcomes with bevacizumab and triamcinolone for posterior uveal melanoma in patients undergoing I-125 plaque brachytherapy

Principal Investigator: Nisha V. Shah - University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Note: Medical Student Award - In honor of participants in the Suncoast Miles for Melanoma

2011

Established Investigator Award

Characterization of the BAP1 uveal melanoma metastasis suppressor gene

Principal Investigator: Dr. J. William Harbour - Washington University, St. Louis
Note: In memory of Kerry Daveline, Mike Revers, Kathy Bowers, Patricia Schellhardt Malone, Tom Butler, and Jonnie Newcomer - 3 year award co-funded with the Melanoma Research Alliance

Understanding of CTLA4 blockade and its combination with BRAF inhibition

Principal Investigator: Dr. Antoni Ribas - The Regents of the University of California
Note: In honor of the participants in the Team M4M Marathon Training Program

Career Development Award

Balancing melanophore number in Danio rerio zebrafish

Principal Investigator: Dr. Cynthia Cooper - Washington State University
Note: The Cosmopolitan Practice Safe Sun Research Grant

Epac1 as a target for treating melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kosaku Iwatsubo - UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
Note: In honor of participants in Miles for Melanoma of New Jersey

Evaluating c-Kit in mucosal melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthew VanBrocklin - Nevada Cancer Institute
Note: In memory of Susan Fazio and Lenore Goldberg

Impact of iPS cell-derived highly reactive T lymphocytes on melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jim (Jianxun) Song - The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Note: In memory of Andrea Sheridan and Steve Casey, and in honor of participants in Miles for Melanoma of Delaware and Tracy Welge

Roles of epigenetic regulator JARID1B in metastatic melanoma

Principal Investigator: Dr. Qin Yan - Yale University
Note: In memory of Paul Mikaulauskas, Nate Bloom, Gloria Wennerstrand, and Denny Neely, and in honor of the members of the 2010 Krokodiloes, Tigertones, and Whiffenpoofs

Medical Student Award

Defining the melanoma anti-glycan antibody recurrence signature

Principal Investigator: Adele Haimovic - NYU School of Medicine
Note: Medical Student Grant - In honor of Project Red Walrus

GNAQ and GNA11 germ-line mutations as potential genetic biomarkers of increased melanoma risk in hereditary melanoma families

Principal Investigator: Jason E. Hawkes - The University of Utah School of Medicine
Note: Medical Student Grant - In memory of Staff Sgt. Jon Warrington and Brad Lanpher

Genetic alterations in benign melanocytic neoplasms and invasive melanomas arising in the female genital tract

Principal Investigator: Diane Tseng - Stanford University School of Medicine
Note: Medical School Grant - In memory of Robert Hansen, and in honor of Simple Serenity Spa and Wellness, LLC

2010

Established Investigator Award

Develop a prognostic scoring system in node-negative melanoma patients

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kelly McMasters - University of Louisville
Note: In honor of participants of Team M4M and the Miles for Melanoma program

The regulation of melanoma metastasis

Principal Investigator: Dr. Sean Morrison - The University of Michigan
Note: The Diana Ashby Award - In memory of Brenda MacDonald and Peggy Spiegler.

Career Development Award

Improving melanoma response to BRAF V600E targeting

Principal Investigator: Dr. Roger Lo - UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
Note: In memory of Brad Lanpher, Peter Labyak, Jim Foy, Larry Katz, James O'Robbins, Larry Poplawski, Cathy Beelaert, and Kathy Bowers; and in honor of Katie Brennan.

Molecular determinants of apoptosis resistance in melanoma clinical immunotherapy

Principal Investigator: Ali Jazirehi - The Regents of the University of California
Note: In memory of Kevin Anderson and Aaron Anchor, and in honor of Neil Gaines and participants from Dermatology Interest Group Association.

Study of the role of MicroRNAs in melanoma brain tropism

Principal Investigator: Dr. Eva Hernando - NYU School of Medicine
Note: In memory of Tom Triphahn, Harold Quade, and Marilyn Taheny; and in honor of the Too Faced Cosmetics' Love Lisa Award and participants of the Ragnar Relay

Understanding molecular mechanisms for the role of NEDD9 in melanoma progression

Principal Investigator: Minjung Kim - H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Center
Note: In memory of Bill Walter III, George A. Wilkins, Edward A. Merullo, Randy G. Johnson, Leonard E. Warren, Amanda Carter-Horn, and Don Aronow

2009

Established Investigator Award

Requirements for MITF-regulated melanomas: Identification of novel drug targets

Principal Investigator: Edward Harlow - Harvard Medical School
Note: The Diana Ashby Award

Career Development Award

MicroRNA in regulation and targeting of the cKit receptor in malignant melanoma

Principal Investigator: Vitali Alexeev - Thomas Jefferson University
Note: The Susan Fazio Foundation for Melanoma Research Award for Mucosal Melanoma

Regulation of melanoma metastasis by the tumor microenvironment: The role of Platelet Activating Factor (PAF) and PAF receptor

Principal Investigator: Vladislava Melnikova - MD Anderson Cancer Center
Note: Award in memory of Michael Geltrude and James O. Robbins; funding provided by the Mike Geltrude Foundation and JCK Foundation

Targeted therapy for melanoma

Principal Investigator: Keiran Smalley - H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute
Note: Award from The Bill Walter III Melanoma Research Fund, The New Jersey Miles for Melanoma and in honor of Landa Martin

Targeting kinases to treat melanomas

Principal Investigator: SubbaRao Madhunapantula - Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Note: Award in honor of 2008 Wings of Hope Recipient: Dr. Howard Kaufman and The Too Faced Cosmetics' Love Lisa Award

2008

Established Investigator Award

Integrating genetic and morphologic features of melanoma to improve disease classification

Principal Investigator: Boris C. Bastian - University of California, San Francisco
Note: The Susan Fazio Melanoma Research Foundation Award for Mucosal Melanoma

Mechanism of UVB initiation of melanoma: a novel in vivo approach

Principal Investigator: Edward DeFabo - The George Washington University
Note: The Diana Ashby Award in Memory of Danny Federici and the E Street Band

Regulatory immune cell interactions in the microenvironment of melanoma metastases

Principal Investigator: Patrick Hwu - MD Anderson Cancer Center
Note: Award in Memory of James R. Robbins

Career Development Award

Inducing potent anti-tumor immunity against melanoma using cytokine/antibody immune complexes

Principal Investigator: Paul Antony - University of Maryland, Baltimore
Note: The Brenda MacDonald Melanoma Foundation Award

Interrogating the role of HIF in malignant melanoma

Principal Investigator: William Kim - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Note: Award in Honor of Balmoral Turkey Trot, Carter's Crusade Black Ribbon Ball, Cincinnati Miles for Melanoma Teams, Full Spectrum Dermatology, Dan & Pam Howard and Dean Packer

Investigating the role of small Ribonucleic Acids (RNAs) in the progression of cutaneous melanoma

Principal Investigator: Soheil Dadras - Stanford University
Note: The Too Faced Cosmetics' Love Lisa Award

Neuronal apoptosis by the prolyl hydroxylase EgIN3: Oxygen sensing and cancer

Principal Investigator: Susanne Schlisio - Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Note: Award in Memory of Don Aronow

Particle mediated epidermal delivery of xenogeneic gp100 DNA vaccines for melanoma

Principal Investigator: Jedd Wolchok
Note: The Life4Life Foundation Award

Role of lysosomal thiolreductase GILT in the activation of melanoma-specific T lymphocytes

Principal Investigator: Karen Taraszka Hastings - University of Arizona
Note: Award in Honor of Kelly's Dream and The New Jersey Miles for Melanoma

2007

Career Development Award

Developing novel compounds to inhibit Akt3 signaling in melanoma

Principal Investigator: Arati Sharma
Note: The Susan Fazio Melanoma Research Foundation Award; In Memory of John Geltrude and Tricia Elaine Black by Teb's Troops

EphA2 as a therapeutic target for malignant melanoma

Principal Investigator: Angela Hess
Note: Award in Honor of Dermatology Interest Group Association and Miles for Melanoma Team Members

LAMP-2 function in cytoplasmic antigen presentation by human melanomas

Principal Investigator: Victoria Crotzer
Note: The Bill Walter III Melanoma Research Fund and Jeanie O'Malley D'Ambrose

Origin of regulatory CD4-T cells in metastic malignant melanoma

Principal Investigator: Alexander Krupnick
Note: Award in Honor of Katie Brennan, Dr. Casey Culbertson, Mr. & Mrs. Doug Eckrote, William Gelston, Keith Hennessey, Debbie Martel, Jennifer Mitchell and Jay & Barbie Otto

Population-based whole genome association study of melanoma risk using DNA pooling

Principal Investigator: Kevin Brown
Note: Award in Honor of 2007 Wings of Hope Recipients: Gregory & Jeanine Rush and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The molecular mechanism of melanoma sentinel node immunosuppression

Principal Investigator: Jonathan Lee
Note: Award in Memory of Kent McCullough

The role of Suppressors of Cytokine Signaling (SOCS) in mediating the anti-tumor proprties of Interferon-alpha (IFN-a)

Principal Investigator: Gregory Lesinski
Note: Award in Memory of Brian Anderson, Tom Butler, Dr. R. Scott Heath, George Madzia, Carl Osterlof, Bruce Schocken, Bob Whitman and George A. Wilkins

The role of erythropoietin and its receptor in melanoma cell survival in vivo

Principal Investigator: Xiaowe Xu - The Pennsylvania College of Medicine
Note: The Susan Fazio Melanoma Research Foundation Award

2006

Established Investigator Award

A mouse model of BRAF-induced melanoma

Principal Investigator: Martin McMahon - University of California, San Francisco
Note: Senior Grant Award in Memory of Diana Ashby

Career Development Award

Generating and maintaining post-excisional immunity against poorly-immunogenic melanoma

Principal Investigator: Mary Jo Turk - Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth College

Investigation of FGFR2 as a novel oncogene in melanoma

Principal Investigator: Pamela Pollock - Translational Genomics Research Institute
Note: Award in Memory of Brian Anderson and Dr. R. Scott He

Mechanisms of immune system-mediated tumor regressions in patients with melanoma

Principal Investigator: Antoni Ribas - University of California, Los Angeles
Note: Award in Memory of Don Aronow and Cathleen Roe Eagan

Small molecule antagonists of oncoprotein myc as inhibitors of malignant melanoma

Principal Investigator: Mikhail Nikiforov - University of Michigan
Note: Award in Memory of Thomas W. Barner and Michael Benso

The role of coactosin in melanoma motility and metastasis

Principal Investigator: James E. Bear - University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
Note: Award in Memory of Thomas E. Coveny and Jack Maroulis

2005

Career Development Award

Identification of novel molecular targets for the treatment of melanoma

Principal Investigator: Sheri L. Holmen - Nevada Cancer Institute
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award

Immunotherapy against melanoma

Principal Investigator: Noah Craft - University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center
Note: The Jeanie O’Malley D’Ambrose Memorial Award

Targeting BRAF and INK4A lesions in melanoma treatment

Principal Investigator: Jianli Dong - University of Texas Medical Branch
Note: Bill Walter III Melanoma Research Fund Award

2004

Career Development Award

Characterization of melanocyte transformation by Grm1

Principal Investigator: Suzie Chen - Rutgers University
Note: Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation Award

Crystal structure of recombinant melanoma differentiation associated protein-7 (IL-24): Engineering MDA-7 for therapeutic purposes

Principal Investigator: R. Bryan Sutton - University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
Note: Award in Honor of 2003 Wings of Hope Recipients: Allured Publishing, Dr. Allan Halpern, Scott Klau and Marshall Ramsey

Functional significance of the activating V599E B-Raf mutation in melanoma tumorigenesis

Principal Investigator: Gavin Robertson - Penn State University, M.S.Hershey Medical Center
Note: Foundation for Melanoma Research Award

Yeast vaccine: A novel melanoma vaccine

Principal Investigator: Mayumi Fujita - University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Note: Award in Honor of Char Kurant and Heidi Coughlin

2003

Career Development Award

Regulation of T cell migration into melanoma metastases

Principal Investigator: Robert Fuhlbrigge - Brigham and Women's Hospital
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award

Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-D (VEGF-D) in the biology of melanoma lymphatic metastasis

Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Gershenwald - MD Anderson Cancer Center
Note: Don Aronow Memorial Research Award

2001

Career Development Award

Scientific Meeting Support

Principal Investigator: Dirk Ruiter - The International Congress for Pigmented Cell Research

Selective disruption of melanosome biogenesis: A possible therapeutic adjuvant in melanoma treatment

Principal Investigator: Victor Faundez - Emory University
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award

The role of rho isoprenylation in melanoma invasion

Principal Investigator: Michael S. Kolodney - University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine
Note: James Whittenberg Memorial Research Award and the Don Aronow Memorial Research Award

The role of soluble fibrin in leukocyte adherence and cytotoxity of melanoma cells

Principal Investigator: John Biggerstaff - University of Central Florida
Note: Jason Armstrong Memorial Research Award and the Kerr, Russell and Weber Melanoma Research Award

2000

Career Development Award

Induction of anti-melanoma immune responses with interferon-g-polarized DC (Dentritic Cells)

Principal Investigator: Pawel Kalinski - University of Pittsburgh
Note: Kathy Salling Memorial Research Award

Protection of dendritic cells from melanoma-induced apoptosis for tumor vaccination

Principal Investigator: Clemens Esche - University of Pittsburgh
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award

The effect of environmental factors on melanoma invasion and metastasis

Principal Investigator: Lori White - Rutgers University
Note: Martin Schneider Memorial Research Award

1999

Career Development Award

Role of cadherins in melanoma transmigration and metastasis

Principal Investigator: Andrew P. Kowalczyk - Emory University School of Medicine
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award

Scientific Meeting Support for Novel Melanoma Research

Principal Investigator: Dorothea Becker - University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Note: Presented at a scientific meeting related to novel melanoma research held in June of 2000

1998

Career Development Award

Testing E2F1 as a Candidate Oncogene Involved in Melanoma

Principal Investigator: Mark A. Nelson - The Arizona Cancer Center, of the University of Arizona at Tucson
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award

Regulation of Fas Ligand in Melanoma

Principal Investigator: Warren Chow - City of Hope National Medical Center
Note: Diana Ashby Memorial Research Award